What is the Role of a Cocker Spaniel During the Hunting


A Cocker and the other flushing spaniels originated in the 19th century from the dogs also known as ‘field spaniels’.

A very interesting fact: the smallest puppies in the litter became ‘cockers’ because they chased a bird known as woodcock. The hunters needed a small compact dog to go through brambles and other bushes.

The introduction of the Cocker Spaniel gave the hunters an opportunity to flush those birds in the wild.

What is the Role of a Cocker Spaniel During the Hunting?

The primary target of a Cocker Spaniel in a flushing game is to retrieve shot birds (ducks in the most cases) from fields, marshlands and open water. Some hunters use Cocker Spaniels to chase rabbits (a dog should flush out an animal for hunter to fire or drive it).

But Cocker Spaniels are used to hunt rabbits rather seldom (just in a few countries, like Great Britain). Its main role is to work in feather, rather in fur.

How to Start Training?

Recommendation: to start training your puppy for bird retrieving or rabbit driving/carrying, a dog should undergo some basic training. This includes the basic commands for retrieve, recall, stay, sit, and up. These commands are necessary for a good hunting dog.

You should start to sharpen a Cocker Spaniel puppy when it is already 1 month old. Teach your small Cocker in the form of a funny play: make it search, find and fetch its favorite toys. When your Spaniel is 4 months old, start to train it to get toys from the water and immediately bring them to you.

Be careful! Do not overload a small puppy with training. Training sessions must be short and frequent, and always cheerful and friendly.

Moreover, it is necessary to develop stamina of your puppy. It should spend a lot of time on the fresh air running and playing, thus a puppy will have well developed organs and a strong body. A proper diet also plays a significant role: it should be rich in protein. That is how you can prepare your puppy to real bird hunting training.

When your Cocker puppy is 6 months old, it should know how to walk on the leash (from your left side). The training should be done on a daily basis until the puppy is fully aware of what they are to do for every command.

A Cocker Should Know a Gun Pattern

For a successful hunting, it is necessary for a Cocker Spaniel puppy to know how to stay and work within the perimeter of the gun. Many professional hunters use pigeons to train a puppy to stay in a proper gun area. A Cocker Spaniel needs to learn the pattern of flushing and retrieving within the hunter’s range of shooting.

The most crucial issue is that a Cocker should know how to chase and come back if the bird (rabbit) is out of the gun range. For this, you may use a recall whistle.

Warning! Some professionals advise to use shock collars for dog training (to teach a dog to stop and come back). It is an effective method, but may seem to be too abusive for a dog. However, it is your right to choose.

A Cocker Should Get Used to a Gun

It is not a secret, that a good trained dog should not be scared of loud unexpected sounds, as gun reports. After a Cocker Spaniel hears a gun bang, it should immediately retrieve a bird. It is not easy task to do: you will need to practice and take the dog out with you to become accustomed to the noise of birds and do a shorter chase and then call them back.

Advice: if your dog is still frightening gun reports, it is better to consult with a skillful dog trainer who knows how to train hunting dogs.


We hope that this general information will help you to start training your small puppy for successful flushing games.

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Author of 1001doggy.com Silvia Brown
Written by Silvia Brown
Glad to see you, my friends! I started this blog several years ago as a hobby and continue to write articles about dogs.
I'm a dog lover and the proud owner of two wonderful dogs: French Bulldog Maya and Beagle Tom. It's been more than 10 years since I had a dogs and worked closely with them. I've raised four dogs throughout my life and have experience assisting in the births of two dogs. At least once a week, I volunteer with friends at a dog shelter AMA Animal Rescue and Animal Care Centers of NYC in NY.

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Jaemin Kim
Jaemin Kim
5 years ago

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing on behalf of the Dog Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health in the United States. We have recently completed, and had accepted for publication, a study of sport hunting dogs. Our study addressed the role of cardiac genes in successful athletic dogs. I would like to include pictures of dogs at work from relevant breeds and noted that you had posted a picture of a lovely Cocker Spaniel on https://1001doggy.com/what-is-the-role-of-a-cocker-spaniel-during-the-hunting/
I request permission to use that picture in our research article. The artwork will be attributed (i.e., “Image courtesy of John Smith”). I am happy to send you a copy of our published paper once it is out.

Thank you for your consideration.

Jaemin Kim, PhD
50 South Drive, MSC 8000
Bldg. 50, Room 5347
Bethesda, MD 20892-8000
[email protected]

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